German election updates
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The two main German parties are neck and neck after Sunday’s elections, according to the first exit polls to determine who will succeed Angela Merkel at the head of Europe’s largest economy.
An exit poll of the public broadcaster ARD placed both center-left Social Democrats and center-right CDU / CSU at 25 percent, Greens at 15 percent and Free Liberal Democrats (FDP) at 11 percent.
However, another exit poll by broadcaster ZDF placed the Social Democrats in the lead with 26 percent, the CDU / CSU with 24 percent, the Greens with 14.5 percent and the FDP with 12 percent.
Preliminary results suggest that Germany is ready for a three-way coalition, the first in its recent history. It will take weeks and perhaps months of wrangling as the parties overcome their many differences to assemble a viable government.
However, it is still unclear what form the coalition will take and whether the next German government will be led by the SPD and its chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz, the current finance minister, or Armin Laschet’s CDU / CSU.
“It’s a photo finish,” said Markus Blume, general secretary of CSU, the Bavarian sister party of Laschet’s CDU.
Sunday’s election was the first in postwar German history where an incumbent chancellor failed to stand for re-election, a factor that made the race one of the most volatile and unpredictable in living memory. All major parties – SPD, CDU / CSU and Greens – have seen ten point swings in their poll scores since the start of the year.
Merkel’s departure from power meant that the millions of voters who had voted for her in previous elections but had no strong CDU / CSU allegiance were up for grabs.
“It’s a neck and neck race and it will be a long election night. At the moment, we cannot say who will win, ”CDU Secretary General Paul Ziemiak told ARD a few minutes after the exit ballot was published, adding that the decisive question will be who can form a party. government.
Additional reporting by Olaf Storbeck in Frankfurt